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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 21st Jun 2016

The adult industry has a history of ushering in media revolutions.

For more than a decade, the tens of thousands of gadget nerds and tech geeks who converged upon Las Vegas every year for the Consumer Electronics Show were exposed to more than just the latest technology. Until 2012, the colossal electronics trade show coincided with the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo, which often occupied a space in the same building. The overwhelmingly male CES attendees could peruse the latest flat-screen TVs, then slip across the hall to mingle with porn stars.

It’s no coincidence that the two events coexisted for so many years. The pornography expo was born out of the adult-video section of CES in the 1990s, after its participants grew tired of being relegated to a dark basement of the convention center. In 2011, an AVN representative estimated that CES and AEE shared about 40 percent of their attendees. (The 2012 split was driven by the rising travel and lodging costs of holding two large conferences at the same time; the events are now held at separate venues one or two weeks apart.)


CES attendees who crane their necks into the pornography-filled exhibition hall next door have reasons to do so other than to ogle at scantily clad adult performers. If they’re attending CES to get a sense of the next big communications technology, they’d do well to visit the adult expo as well: Over the past few decades, the porn industry has played instrumental role in driving adoption of new technologies.

Without porn, “there’s a very good chance that the VCR might never have taken off.”
Porn’s outsize influence on technology had its first big part in the early days of the VCR, says Patchen Barss, the author of The Erotic Engine, a book that chronicles the history of pornography’s effects on mass communication. Before VCRs started making their way into living rooms, people had to sneak into shady theaters to watch adult films. The prospect of watching them in the privacy of their own homes helped create an early market for home-video equipment, Barss says. Without porn, “there’s a very good chance that the VCR might never have taken off.”

Some of the same forces that helped along the VCR also had a hand in the proliferation of cable television, Barss said. Cable TV allowed for more suggestive programming, which became one of the factors that convinced people to pay for “premium channels” despite getting broadcast channels for free.

With VCRs and cable TV, the adult industry drove a crucial wave of early adoption. “Pornography exerts a disproportionate influence over technologies at the stage when they are new and glitchy and expensive and difficult to use,” Barss said. “They create an initial market that allows them to develop to the point where they’re ready for the mainstream.”

The main consumers of adult content—young men—also tend to be more willing to take on the expense and risk of adopting early, says Jonathan Coopersmith, a professor of technology history at Texas A&M University. If they gamble on the wrong technology, their newly purchased equipment can quickly turn into expensive hunks of plastic and metal.


The pornography industry isn’t creating new communication technologies, Coopersmith said, nor is it particularly prescient about what technology is likely to take off. It’s simply taken advantage of new developments before others, and has enough of a draw that people are willing to follow it.

Its position on the leading edge of technology comes partly out of necessity. “There’s a nimbleness to being in the marginalia,” Barss says. Once technologies and platforms reach mainstream status, they may become less friendly to adult content, and the social stigma attached to porn has repeatedly drawn consumers to new, largely untested technologies that provide better privacy.

The ultimate in private access to pornography came with the internet. On the web, not even the checkout-counter guy at the video store has to know what you’re up to. But even though it was another step toward isolation, Barss says the internet also injected porn with a sense of community. Early online bulletin boards and forums allowed people to share user-generated erotica and pornography, while maintaining distance and anonymity. For once, it wasn’t a porn company luring people to a platform with promises of smut; it was people creating and sharing it themselves.

Of course, people had been able to make their own porn at home for decades. The boom of home pornography came with the spread of the camcorder in the seventies and eighties, a device that Coopersmith says “really changed the world of pornography by destroying the traditional distinction between producers, distributors, and consumers.” Once the internet made transferring data simple—whether from a home server, via BitTorrent, or by online streaming—the general public could participate in generating, sharing, and even making money from explicit content.

That social aspect is what most surprised Barss during his research. And whether the next frontier is in virtual reality, haptic feedback (“teledildonics”), or another new invention, the adult industry will likely be ahead of the game—and a new community could spring up around it, he says. “Pornography driving technology has been as much about people finding new ways to connect to other people as it has been about people finding more private ways to consume pornography.”

Source: theatlantic.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 21st Jun 2016

Google's new London office is ready to house several hundred of the company's staff.

Around 800 engineers are moving into the building at 6 Pancras Square in King's Cross on Monday, with another 2,000 staff expected to move in over the course of the year. Only five floors of the building are finished but Google expects all 11 to be complete by October.

The staff at 6 Pancras Square will work on some of Google's best-known products, including Android, the company's mobile operating system, and YouTube.

They'll be given free food, access to a 90m running track, massages, and cookery classes from a chef that used to work with Jamie Oliver.

Business Insider was given a tour of the office last week by Google real estate executive Andrew Martin and Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) architect Steve Smith. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take photos but Google has sent over a limited selection that we can show you.

The 11-storey office has been leased by Google from BNP Paribas Real Estate, as the search giant stalls on a new £1 billion UK headquarters that it said it would build on a plot of land less than 200 metres away. Google said in 2013 that the new UK HQ would be ready by 2016 but the initial plans were scrapped for being "too boring" and the company is yet to start building.

Google has quietly snapped up several other properties in King's Cross, including the building next door (7 Pancras Square), which is home to the company's AI research lab, Google DeepMind, and a mystery property called "S2," which is yet to be built.

The roof terraces offer Googlers stunning views over London. They come with sun loungers and gardens that will no doubt make for a pleasant outdoor dining experience.
The roof terraces offer Googlers stunning views over London. They come with sun loungers and gardens that will no doubt make for a pleasant outdoor dining experience.
BNP Paribas
This is the underground passage that Google staff will take from King's Cross St Pancras to their new office.
This is the underground passage that Google staff will take from King's Cross St Pancras to their new office.
Jim Edwards

Architecture firm AHMM deliberately designed the interior with plenty of communal areas to facilitate chance encounters between engineers working on different projects. These encounters are important, Google says, as they fuel "engineering serendipity."

Lounge areas give Googlers the chance to chill out on Vitra sofas that can cost up to £17,000 or even take a nap in one of five Metronap "nap pods", which cost £5,500.

Barista stations can be found across the Google building. Free coffee will be provided but Google expects many of its staff to bring their own speciality blends anyway.

The curvy staircase is one of the centrepieces of the building.

Unlike many of Google's other offices, 6 Pancras Square doesn't make regular use of the bright, bold, colours associated with Google's logo.

One of the rooms in the new Google office block is called Platform 9 3/4 after the train platform that Hogwarts students use to board the Hogwarts Express at King's Cross.

All of the desks in Google's new office can be raised, allowing Googlers to stand and work if they want to.

Floors 7-11 are finished, while floors 1-6 — home to massage rooms and a huge gym with a 90m running track — are still being worked on. The striking staircase links some of the higher floors.

Google staff will be able to take the Eurostar from St Pancras to Brussels and Paris in around two hours. This is a key selling point for the office's location, according to Google.

The wider King's Cross area is currently undergoing a major redevelopment, meaning Googlers across the area will be able to make use of things like this outdoor swimming pool or explore a nearby nature reserve when they're not writing code.

They'll also be able to eat at popular restaurants like Dishoom, which has a large restaurant close to Google's new office.

Questions remain over when Google's UK HQ will open. 

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 21st Jun 2016

For the last three months, the music industry has been fighting -- or at least negotiating in public -- with YouTube.

Now, artists are adding their voices.

In an ad that will run Tuesday through Thursday in the Washington DC magazines Politico, The Hill, and Roll Call, 180 performers and songwriters are calling for reform of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which regulates copyright online. A range of big names from every genre signed the ad -- from Taylor Swift to Sir Paul McCartney, Vince Gill to Vince Staples, Carole King to the Kings of Leon -- as did 19 organizations and companies, including the major labels.

Music Industry A-Listers Call on Congress to Reform Copyright Act

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), enacted in 1998, gives services like YouTube “safe harbor” from copyright infringement liability for the actions of their users, as long as they respond to takedown notices from rightsholders. In practice, labels and publishers say, this gives YouTube a negotiating advantage. The big labels and publishers have long had deals with the video service, but they have often said that the DMCA gives it leverage that services like Spotify don’t have. In March, the RIAA called this the “value grab.” Manager Irving Azoff, who organized the ad, has made DMCA reform a priority, speaking about the issue in February, when he accepted The Recording Academy President's Merit Award at Clive Davis' pre-Grammy Awards gala, and two weeks ago at the National Music Publishers Association annual meeting.

Artists are usually reluctant to get involved in copyright policy debates, but several signed an April 1 petition on the same topic. Like the petition many artists signed in 2012 against the Internet Radio Fairness act, which would have lowered online radio royalties, this represents a rare case in which most of the music business agrees on something.

The major labels are now negotiating new deals with YouTube -- Universal Music Group’s contract has already expired, although the companies continue to do business on an ongoing basis. At the same time, the U.S. Copyright Office is conducting a study of the DMCA safe harbors as the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee is reviewing copyright law. This had made the DMCA an urgent issue for labels and publishers, which believe that YouTube’s free service makes it harder to convince music consumers to sign up for subscription services like Apple Music and Spotify. As performers and songwriters become more willing to speak out about copyright issues, the famously contentious music business seems to have found an issue it can unite around.

100 Percent Licensing: U.S. Copyright Office Argues New Proposal Threatens Song Owners' Rights

The DMCA, this week's ad says, “has allowed major tech companies to grow and generate huge profits by creating ease of use for consumers to carry almost every recorded song in history in their pocket via a smartphone, while songwriters’ and artists’ earnings continue to diminish.” It suggests that the DMCA wasn’t intended to protect the kind of companies that benefit from it now -- a subject that’s been debated by lawyers and policymakers as well -- and asks for “sensible reform that balances the interests of creators with the interests of the companies who exploit music for their financial enrichment.”

YouTube has said it gets no advantage from the DMCA, since its Content ID system gives labels a way to remove or monetize their music, and 99.5 percent of music claims involve it as opposed to manual DMCA requests. This implies that Content ID is very effective, but it’s hard to know for sure, since no one measures how much music the system doesn’t identify. YouTube also points out that it has paid more than $3 billion to the music business, and that much of this revenue is generated by casual music fans who might not subscribe to other services anyway.

However, some online-based artists have been speaking out on behalf of YouTube. After Azoff wrote an open letter to YouTube last month, the video creator Hank Green, who runs the YouTube channel Vlogbrothers, responded with a letter than made the case that the service is good for the music business. On June 15, Green announced that he and other creators were forming The Internet Creators Guild to advocate for professional online creators. The guild will apparently not pressure online platforms for better terms, but it will “unify the voice of online creators to create change.” One wonders whether this unified voice could be raised to oppose those of music rightsholders, since Google, which owns YouTube, has sometimes argued that copyright enforcement suppresses online creativity.

Wait, What? The Copyright Royalty Board, Webcasting Rates and Paying Artists, Explained

Two other artists have been especially critical of YouTube. Trent Reznor, no stranger to technology given his role at Apple Music, told Billboard on June 13 that YouTube was “built on the backs of free, stolen content.” Nikki Sixx’ band Sixx:A.M. also wrote a detailed open letter to YouTube, appealing to Larry Page, chief executive of Google’s parent company Alphabet, to better compensate musicians. Last week, YouTube responded, in a statement to Music Business Worldwide that said “the voices of the artists are being heard.”

Now, it seems, those voices are speaking louder.

Source: billboard.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 21st Jun 2016

34 tech leaders sign open letter warning of risks of leaving open market of 500 million people

Over 30 leaders at UK tech companies including BT and Virgin Media, as well as subsidiaries of US giants including IBM, HPE and Microsoft, have urged UK citizens to vote to remain in the European Union.

The letter was signed by 34 tech leaders and published first in The Times. It urges people to vote to stay in the EU, citing huge risks if the nation leaves.

“The UK’s tech sector is a global success. It is growing faster than the rest of the UK economy and creating new businesses and jobs across the country. EU membership has underpinned that success. A vote to leave would undermine it,” they said.

Notable signatories of the letter include:

Michel van der Bel, UK CEO, Microsoft
Victor Chavez, CEO, Thales UK
Julian David, CEO, techUK
Andy Isherwood, MD UK and Ireland, HPE
Michael Keegan, SVP, head of EMEA product business and chairman UK & Ireland, Fujitsu
Tom Mockridge, CEO, Virgin Media
Gavin Patterson, CEO, BT
Cormac Watters, MD UK, SAP
David Stokes, CEO, IBM UK
The letter goes on to explain more about why the signatories feel a remain vote is in the best interests of the country.

"Tech companies are not starry eyed about the EU, but repeated surveys of startups, SMEs, investors and corporates make it clear that the overwhelming majority would vote to stay," said the letter.

“[We] believe staying in the EU is the best choice for the UK economy. According to techUK members, most of which are small businesses, being part of the EU makes it easier for them to trade and do business across Europe.

"It makes the UK more attractive to international investment and makes Britain more globally competitive.

"A decision to exit the EU would leave tech firms and their customers facing significant and prolonged uncertainty, and leave the UK side-lined on key decisions that will shape a digital market of 500 million consumers."

The firms are just the latest in a long line of organisations to urge a remain vote in the referendum. Past surveys have found that being in the EU is seen as a major asset for tech-oriented firms.

Despite this Google data has shown more people searching for 'leave the EU' than 'remain in the EU.

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 21st Jun 2016

Technology improvements on Earth suggest others could have made the world we think is real

Tech visionary Elon Musk thinks that there is a 'one in billions' chance that humanity is not living in a simulation created by aliens, given how many technological advances we have achieved in just 40 years.

Musk was responding to a question posed at the Recode conference in the US.

“Forty years ago we had Pong - two rectangles and a dot. That's what games were. Now 40 years later we have photo-realistic 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously, and it's getting better every year,” he said.

Musk pointed out that the speed and scale of this improvement mean that we will eventually reach a point where games are "indistinguishable" from real life, even if it takes 10,000 years.

“Soon we'll have virtual reality and augmented reality [and] if you assume any rate of improvement at all the games will become indistinguishable from reality, just indistinguishable.”

This makes it highly possible that another race has already been through this process of creating games that are indistinguishable from real life and has actually created the world in which we live, according to Musk.

“It would seem to follow that the odds that we're in 'base reality' is one in billions,” he said.

This may be unnerving to some, but Musk said that it has a positive angle because our improvement suggests that the world that’s controlling us is healthy and functioning.

“If civilisation stops advancing that may be due to some calamitous event that erases civilisation. So maybe we should be hopeful that this is a simulation.”

Musk, who oversees Space X and Tesla, is perhaps well placed to offer such outlandish theories as he seeks to push into new areas of technological understanding.

He has previously raised concerns with the development of artificial intelligence systems, warning that they could become the weapons of the future in an open letter also signed by Stephen Hawking and Apple co-founder Steve Wosniak.

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 21st Jun 2016

Company bringing smart technology development to Europe

Google is building a machine learning technology centre in Zurich to bring the firm's machine intelligence research work to Europe.

The Google Research, Europe centre is effectively an extension of the Google Research division in the US, which focuses on machine learning and solving problems in Computer Science and related areas.

Emmanuel Mogenet, head of Google Research, Europe, explained that the new centre will enhance collaboration between Google’s researchers across the world, and aid the development of new tools and products based on machine learning technology and algorithms.

“Google Research, Europe will foster an environment where software engineers and researchers specialising in machine learning will have the opportunity to develop products and conduct research in Europe as part of the wider efforts at Google,” he wrote on the Google blog.

Zurich was chosen because it is the location for Google’s largest engineering office outside the firm's Mountain View headquarters in California.

The company's Zurich-based engineers created the engine that powers Knowledge Graph, Google’s framework that enhances how its search engine serves information to queries, along with the conversation engine that powers the Google Assistant in the Allo chat app.

Google Research, Europe will concentrate on developing machine intelligence, natural language processing and understanding, and machine perception technologies.

“In pursuit of these areas, the team will actively research ways to improve machine learning infrastructure, broadly facilitating research for the community, and enabling it to be put to practical use,” Mogenet said.

“Furthermore, researchers in the Zurich office will be uniquely able to work closely with team linguists, advancing natural language understanding in collaboration with Google Research groups across the world, all while enjoying 'mountain views' of a different kind.”

The move to set up a research centre in Europe highlights Google’s ambitions to push the scope of machine learning research and its integration into apps, software and devices used in everyday life.

However, the machine learning sector is getting crowded. Apple is pushing a smarter version of Siri into its products and services, and Facebook is exploring the use of machine learning technology that can ape how humans learn.

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 20th Jun 2016

Apple has told Republican leaders it will not provide funding or other support for the party’s 2016 presidential convention, as it's done in the past, citing Donald Trump’s controversial comments about women, immigrants and minorities.

Unlike Facebook, Google and Microsoft, which have all said they will provide some support to the GOP event in Cleveland next month, Apple decided against donating technology or cash to the effort, according to two sources familiar with the iPhone maker’s plans.

Apple’s political stand against Trump, communicated privately to Republicans, is a sign of the widening schism between Silicon Valley and the GOP’s bombastic presumptive nominee. Trump has trained his rhetorical fire on the entire tech industry, but he's singled out Apple for particular criticism -- calling for a boycott of the company's products, and slamming CEO Tim Cook, over Apple's stance on encryption.

Asked about Apple's absence, a spokeswoman for the GOP's convention effort replied: "We are working with a variety of major tech partners who are focused on being part of the American political process."

Apple declined to comment for this story. It's unclear how the company plans to handle the Democratic convention in Philadelphia this summer. A spokeswoman for the Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
While Apple isn’t the most active political player in the nation’s capital, the tech giant previously has backed both parties’ conventions. It provided about $140,000 each in MacBooks and other tech tools to the Democratic and Republican events in 2008, according to campaign finance records. Apple did not write checks to either party four years later, but it did lend products to both conventions in 2012.

Typically, the tech industry tries to court Democrats and Republicans in equal measure. Despite the liberal leanings of Silicon Valley's top executives, companies like Google and Facebook long have split their election-year donations among both parties’ officeholders. While Apple does not have a political action committee, Cook on his own has tried to forge personal relationships with Democratic and GOP lawmakers. He even dined in D.C. last year, for example, with a quartet of top House Republicans.
Trump’s ascendance, however, has upended the tech industry’s usual political calculations.

Major tech companies including Apple support efforts to attract more high-skilled foreign workers to the U.S. – a position shared by many Republicans. But Trump has taken a vastly different course, threatening to expel millions of undocumented immigrants while building a wall on the Mexican border.

Trump's inflammatory comments on Muslims, women and minority groups also rankle progressive tech executives. And on some of the most pressing issues in tech policy, the presumptive Republican nominee's views conflict with the prevailing opinion in Silicon Valley. Earlier this year, for example, Trump slammed Apple for resisting the FBI, as the government sought to force the company to unlock a password-protected iPhone tied to the San Bernardino terrorist attack. Many tech executives, however, rushed to Apple's defense.

Despite Trump's rhetoric, many of the tech industry's biggest players still plan to back the Republican convention in Cleveland. Google said in April it would set up shop on the GOP convention floor, despite a protest by liberal groups and civil rights activists at its headquarters this spring.

That same week, Microsoft revealed it planned to donate computers and software to the GOP convention, though the company said it would not provide funds to Republicans, as it has in the past. And Facebook has pledged “financial and other support” for the event, the company confirmed in June, even though CEO Mark Zuckerberg has taken verbal swipes at Trump over immigration.

By declining to provide support, Apple joins a short list of tech companies taking a stand directly against Trump. Under pressure from activists at ColorofChange.org, HP Inc., a major donor to the GOP convention in 2012, announced in June it would not help fund the convention in Cleveland.

“We want them to divest from hate. We want them to pull all their money and support,” said Mary Alice Crim, field director for Free Press Action Fund, which is part of the anti-Trump campaign. Tech companies backing the convention, she said, need to be “thinking hard about where they put their brand, and whether they want to align their brand with racism, hatred and misogyny.”

Source: politico.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 14th Jun 2016

Data is the lifeblood of most modern day businesses, but it presents a challenge in that it is portable, easily manipulated and relatively effortless to duplicate, so here are the abnormal places that digital fraud attacks may lurk.

Countless businesses are susceptible to data vulnerability, be it from a “planted” mole, or a disgruntled employee or someone trying to get a foot-up in their new position.

When it comes to responding to a situation, which includes seeking appropriate legal advice, the most important task at-hand is to secure any or all evidence in a forensically sound manner to enable a full investigation and to prevent data loss.

Normally investigations focus on: a) what activities individuals have undertaken on a computer and; b) whether any data had been transferred from the computer in an unauthorised manner.

However, businesses should be aware that vital data can also lurk outside of these “normal” places. Below are three examples of investigations that have gone beyond the norm and have been instrumental to legal cases.

(1) Skype and WhatsApp

On one occasion, three key people from different countries within our client’s business resigned at similar times to join a rival, which subsequently made a sustained effort to penetrate a new market.

The suspects were probably conscious that emails would be monitored and therefore turned to Skype’s chat functions. We were able to rebuild their conversations, and found that the dialogue was unguarded and open.

In addition, one of the suspects had synchronised his iPhone with his work computer, creating a backup that allowed his WhatsApp messaging conversations to be recovered and analysed. When this was combined with the Skype data and other nuggets of information, the case unraveled and significant damages were recovered.

2) Cloud

In a similar case, a key employee within our client’s business handed in his notice and announced he was setting up his own business. Despite making assurances to the contrary, it turned out that he was entering into direct competition armed with our client’s proprietary information.

One of the first telling signs of fraudulent activity came to light through the analysis of the network logs, which seemed to indicate that there was unusual amount of traffic occurring during the nights proceeding his announcement. Subsequently, the legal team obtained a court order that allowed us to forensically image data from the suspect’s home and his new business address.

During this process, not only did we discover the ‘storage device,’ but we also found evidence of how the information had been amalgamated into the new business. As a result, our client was able to secure a favorable legal settlement.

(3) The back door left wide open

Thirdly, when one of the lead coders left our client’s employment to engage in a new venture, everything at first seemed to be amicable. However, two chance conversations suggested to our client that all was not what it seemed. The coder had joined a new company that appeared to be competing with our client and it seemed to have developed a similar solution in a fraction of the time it had taken our client.

A closer examination of all the systems and the evidence contained upon them highlighted that not only had the coder connected devices from his home to the client’s systems, but data transfers to his home had continued long after he had left, allowing him to continue to monitor his old employer’s development activities.

During subsequent legal proceedings, the coder’s new company had to hand over versions of their source code for analysis. On first glance, the code appeared very different from our client’s code, however, as our analysis progressed, we noticed that their code had originated from our client’s proprietary intelligence. In the end, the coder’s new company had to withdraw its product from the market and pay substantial damages.

What to do if you suspect digital fraud

Data leaves its digital fingerprints in many different places. These fingerprints can allow an investigator to unearth vital evidence and intelligence to get to the facts.

However, it is vital that businesses suspecting foul play avoid interfering with the evidence and thereby damaging a potential case. Instead, they should take the following steps:

Do not turn on the device – no matter how tempting it is to “have a look”
If a computer is on, turn it off directly at the power switch; do not use the shutdown command; if a server is on, power it down
Freeze the scene and ensure that the computer/device and any digital media is securely stored
Try and identify the user and other potential media
Call an expert as soon as possible

Source: realbusiness.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 13th Jun 2016

IDC forecasts PC shipments will decline by 7.3 per cent year on year

Windows 10 free upgrades continue to contribute to a decline in forecasted PC sales in 2016 as users gain access to a new operating system without needing to buy a new machine.

Analyst firm IDC predicts that PC shipments will fall by 7.3 per cent year on year, and that growth in the market will be two per cent below earlier predictions for 2016.

IDC lays the blame for this decline on challenging markets and the free rollout of Windows 10 from earlier versions of the operating system. This clearly goes against HP’s claim last year that Windows 10 will ‘inspire’ users to buy a new PC.

“Although growth rates for devices such as phones and tablets continue to fall, potentially reducing the competitive pressure on PCs, we have not seen this translate into stronger PC shipments,” said IDC.

“The financial pressure on consumers across regions, and the availability of alternatives such as delaying a PC replacement by using a free Windows 10 upgrade, or relying more on other devices, continues to pressure consumer PC shipments.

"Similarly, while a large share of enterprises are evaluating Windows 10, the pace of new PC purchases has not yet stabilised commercial PC shipments.”

IDC also noted that hybrid laptop-tablet devices are posing a challenge to the PC markets, as falling prices and laptop-like functionality make them an attractive alternative to more expensive dedicated laptops.

Jay Chou, research manager of the Worldwide PC Tracker at IDC, explained that market pressures are predominately on the consumer side.

"The economic and competitive pressures are particularly affecting the consumer segment, which is projected to see another year of double-digit declines in 2016, and decline throughout the forecast,” he said.

"In contrast, commercial shipments are projected to decline just 4.4 per cent in 2016 and see slightly positive growth for the next few years."

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 13th Jun 2016

Passwords saved in browsers and fished out by malware could be to blame for hundreds of millions of password leaks
hack-attack

Insecurities in the way major web browsers store passwords and other information, combined with malware on people's PCs, could be behind a string of credentials leaks, security specialists have warned.

Furthermore, the malware may also be able to access personal information used by browsers to pre-populate web forms. Twitter has suspended millions of accounts in response.

This is the view of specialists at security software company Rapid7 following an analysis of recent password leaks.

"While the credentials themselves appear to be real, the details provided by LeakedSource indicate that the usernames and passwords are sourced from end users rather than from Twitter itself," said Tod Beardsley, security research manager at Rapid7.

"Specifically, it appears that the credentials were harvested from individual browsers' password stores.

"It's just too easy for malware to pick up credentials stored in the default browser password stores as these databases usually lack appropriate access controls."

An early analysis points to a specialised form of malware exploiting this browser security weakness.

"It's not clear from the analysis posted so far what the vector was, but it's certainly some flavour of malware - a malicious application targeting browser-based password storage," Beardsley told V3.

"Browser password storage tends to be in a very findable and predictable path, so either the malware accessed the store directly, or it simply scraped passwords from the log-in screens by navigating to Twitter's log-in page.

"Browser password storage favours ease of use over anything, and doesn't prompt the user for an unlock password after the first use, if at all. Firefox does prompt a user per session, while Chrome's password autofill is completely automated once signed into Google.

"Malware installed on a computer has at least the same rights as the affected user, so no password manager is truly bulletproof against a purpose-built password stealer.

"But an external password manager will typically require authentication for every use, and two-factor authentication does go a long way toward mitigation in the event of a password compromise."

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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